Eight University of Louisville players you should watch in 2015

08/28/2015 06:28 PM

Going into this season, many Cards fans are familiar with some standout players from last season such as quarterbacks Will Gardner, Reggie Bonnafon and Kyle Bolin or linebackers Keith Kelsey and James Burgess. But there will be a lot of new faces this season as UofL fills in vacancies after losing 15 players to graduation and the 2015 NFL draft.

Here are some players fans should get familiar with as they will have a big impact for the Cards this season.

OFFENSE

#23 Brandon Radcliff

Radcliff emerged early last season, rushing for 97 yards and two touchdowns in a lopsided win against Murray State. He became the team’s most consistent back as the year progressed, finishing with 747 yards and 12 touchdowns on 144 carries. Named as one of the team captains for 2015, the 5’9, 214 pound junior figures to be a key component to the team’s offensive success.

#17 James Quick

Louisville native, James Quick was one of several wide receivers to fill the void during DeVante Parker’s absence last season. Quick starred for the Cards in a 34-3 win against Florida International, hauling in a career high seven passes for 174 yards and two scores. The team’s second leading receiver in 2014 behind Parker with 43 catches for 855 yards and three TDs. After the departures of veteran wideouts Eli Rogers, Kai De La Cruz and the aforementioned Parker, Quick will be counted on to lead Louisville’s young receiving corps this season.

#82 Charles Standberry

Sophomore Charles Standberry will be playing a different role for the Cards in 2015 after making the switch from tight end to wide receiver. At 6’3, 226 pounds, Standberry can create mis-matches against smaller defensive backs with his size, speed and athleticism. Standberry saw action in 13 games last season while playing a reserve role behind Gerald Christian. He caught seven passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns in 2014, including the first score of the season against Miami. Standberry will play a much larger role for UofL this year.

#9 Traveon Samuel

Louisville fans will be seeing a different number nine on the field this season but in time UofL’s new nine could prove to be just as much of a playmaker as DeVante Parker. As a true freshman, it is unclear how much playing time Samuel will get this season but his speed (4.41 40 yd dash) could make him a valuable asset in the passing game. At Phenix, Alabama’s Central High School Samuel tallied 1,764 all purpose yards as senior. He also carried the ball 111 times, racking up 861 yards and 11 TDs and caught 39 passes for 553 yards and 3 scores. Though only 5’9 and 179 pounds Samuel may not be a possession receiver but if you see him on the field this season, expect the ball to end up in his hands.

DEFENSE

#98 Sheldon Rankins

At 6’2 303 pounds, senior defensive end Sheldon Rankins has both the size and experience to be a disruptive presence on the defensive line. Rankins was named one of the team captains this season for his leadership skills as much as his physical ability. He had the best season of his career in 2014 with 53 tackles, eight sacks and 13.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Rankins started in 13 games and was named to the All-ACC third team by media and coaches. Expect Rankins to pick up where Lorenzo Mauldin and B.J. Dubose left off last season, setting the edge on runs and terrorizing opposing quarterbacks on pass plays.

#6 Shaq Wiggins

Anything you can say, Shaq Wiggins can say better. The 5’10 171 pound cornerback quickly gained a reputation among teammates as a trash talker after transferring from the University of Georgia. However trash talking isn’t exactly a bad thing if you can back it up. Wiggins sat out the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules but showed his ability during practices and in the 2015 spring game.
In his freshman year at Georgia, Wiggins played in 12 games with eight starts and led the team with two interceptions. Wiggins may be slight of build, but teammates say he combines speed with excellent technique and footwork which allows him to defend bigger, stronger receivers without getting bullied. Look for Wiggins to create a no-fly-zone on his side of the field, a la Charles Gaines.

#92 Devonte Fields

Fields comes to Louisville from Trinity Valley Community College where he totaled 61 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 12 games last season. Before attending Trinity Valley, Fields played at TCU where he was named AP Big 12 Defensive Player of the year and Defensive Newcomer of the Year after his freshman season in 2012. Fields was dismissed from TCU after being charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly striking his girlfriend in 2014. The charge was dropped earlier this summer after Fields completed anger management courses. Off-field issues aside, Fields will be a key component to the Cards Defense this season. At 6’4 245 pounds He has the size and play-making ability to stuff the run and shed blockers. He will be a nice complement to Shelden Rankins on the other end of the D-line.

#25 Josh Harvey-Clemons

Harvey-Clemons will be a fitting replacement for Gerod Holliman at safety. Harvey Clemons sat out in 2014 after transferring from Georgia, where he played for UofL Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham. A familiarity with Grantham’s system along with a year of practice and film study should allow Harvey-Clemons to step in and contribute right away in 2015. At 6’5, 230 pounds, JHC has the size and speed to become a force in the defensive backfield. As a sophomore at Georgia in 2013; he started in 11 games and notched 66 tackles, three fumble recoveries and one interception. Look for Harvey-Clemons to be physical in pass defense and solid on run defense with the ability to crash downhill and make solid tackles.

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